Thursday, May 10, 2012

Marks and Sparks!

So as I have said before I try to cook fresh as much as possible but as we all know that some times doesn't happen. When I can I cook up big portions of a pasta dish or a rice dish so I can freeze individual portions and have my home made ready meals to hand. Even with this there are some times when I am unprepared - I forgot to take something out of the freezer I was supposed to. Something comes up which means I just don't have time to cook or I am just feeling lazy. And there is an M&S on my way home from the dart station after work. So over the past while I have tried a few of these.  And here are my thoughts.

You have the 2 different ranges that tend to be weight watcher friendly - the obvious Count on Us and then the Simply Fuller Longer.

My preference is always going to lie with Simply Fuller Longer - if you read the ingredients on the back they are good ingredients and all recognizable. Sugar is pretty far down on the list of ingredients which is always good as it is usually one of the top ones in processed foods. And the big one, very few of the ingredients are listed as 'low fat' versions and yet these are still low in propoints. Things like feta
cheese, coconut milk are all the full fat versions. And while we are on a low fat diet, for general health it is still good to have fat like this in your diet, as long as its portion controlled which these are. The taste is fabulous too, they are very fresh, you can really taste the ingredients. And because of the way they are formulated, high in protein and fibre and balanced carbs, they do what they advertise and keep you fuller for longer.

One thing the SFL range do not do are sides and desserts and that is where I go to Count on Us. Now don't get me wrong, the meals in the COU range are fine, some of them are very tasty (and they have a lasagne while SFL dont.) But the quality of ingredients just isn't as good and they do not keep you as full. So in my opinion these are not as good a choice as the SFL. The range of desserts however are fabulous and lets be honest when it comes to dessert, the health aspects aren't high on priorities.

So anyway, here are a few of the meals I have tried and what I thought:

SLF Chunky Chilli & Rice - 9pp per serving.

This is delicious, I like that they use chunks of beef instead of mince, makes it more substantial. I added 2pp of cheddar on top of this, and if I had it in the fridge and the extra propoints I would like a spoon of sour cream on it. In saying that, it doesn't need either - very tasty on its own and 2 portions of fruit and veg.

Chicken & Lamb Koftas - 10pp per serving.

This one is my absolute favourite of the ones I have tried so far. The Koftas are full of flavour and they are not dry in anyway, the feta cheese melts in nicely when its hot and along with the yoghurt dressing adds just the right amount of creaminess to this. I love bulgar wheat and chickpeas so this is really ticking all the boxes. Can't recommend it enough.

Thai Red Chicken Curry - 13pp per serving

In one of my first posts I mentioned a ready meal by the city kitchen, a prawn red curry, this is as good if not better. It is slightly higher than the others I have listed here but it is well worth it. And is a good substitute for a takeaway on a Saturday night if you don't have the propoints left for a real one.

I have also tried the meatballs and pasta which are 10pp and so good, definitely lighter than any portion of pasta meatballs I'd be able to make (it would prob be twice the size and I'd eat it all)

The COU ones I have tried recently is the lasagna, which is 11pp per serving. You most definitely need to add some cheese to the top as there is almost none, but this is a tasty lasagna. For me package lasagna always has too much pasta and not enough sauce but that is my personal preference, and this one is no different. But I wanted lasagna and it satisfied my craving.

The ravioli I have not tried, I bought it as they were on special, but I love ravioli so wanted to try it. Its 9pp which I think is pretty good value, but the taste test will tell all.

I like the chive mash, 4pp for half the portion. The texture is a little bit gluey but the taste is good and its a handy one to use if you are in a bind. Nothing special but its good enough.

Now for the desserts, I only discovered these last week so only have 2 to comment on. The one to the right is the skinny chocolate muffin dessert which is 4pp. It is very substantial, chocolatey, creamy and just lovely. There is chocolate mousse and chocolate custard surrounding a piece of chocolate brownie. Absolutely worth the 4pp.

Skinny Chocolate Frappe - 3pp per pot

This is lovely, milk choc mousse, choc custard and topped with white chocolate mousse. Its a good size for 3pp and very tasty.

There are a good few others ones on offer, not all chocolate and most with quite reasonable propoints.

So that's my review of the M&S products I have tried recently. Let me know if there are any others that are worth giving a go.

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